Since our recent anniversary newsletter, we have been incredibly active on the ground raising Mary’s profile, particularly during Black History Month.
We have given talks to over 2000 people, including student nurses at the Bustamante Children’s Hospital’s School of Nursing in Jamaica. We were also delighted to give a talk to the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) at their aptly named “Seacole” headquarters, followed by a tour to see Mary’s statue.
During my recent visit to Jamaica, I was humbled by the kind hospitality shown by the Jamaican Mary Seacole Foundation, particularly by its founder the inspirational Sonia Mills.
We look forward to supporting the relaunch of the Mary Seacole Foundation in Jamaica next year. We are also delighted to have developed contact with the Institute of Jamaica, the Institute is situated at Mary’s place of birth along East Street, Kingston in Jamaica.
Young Seacole Ambassadors 2019 is launched
We have also recently launched our 2019 Young Seacole Ambassador competition, where young people are asked to identify their modern-day Mary. Those shortlisted will be announced at the end of the year.
The MST’s Education Programme has been funded by an education legacy grant awarded to the Trust by the Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity.
There are three categories: primary school, secondary school and outreach team. The successful children will become Young Seacole Ambassadors and a fund will be made available to the schools of those children from the MST for a Mary Seacole legacy concept.
Among the judges will be members of the MST Youth Advisory Committee. A winners’ reception will be held on January 31st 2020 at City Hall.
My grandparents arrived into South London from Jamaica in the late ‘50s, my nan coming from Manchester and my grandad from Kingston.
Like many of my friends, I grew up in a single parent family. My mum worked extremely hard through my early years, and whilst I wasn’t a bad child, I was very demanding and influenced by my peers. My grandparents and my uncle Trevor are a major influence in my life and they have given up much of their time supporting me. I recognise that I am incredibly lucky to have real life role models. They have so much energy for the grandchildren and me that it’s not difficult to want to aspire to be like them. As a family we meet every Sunday to catch up with each other. The film ‘Soulfood’ comes to mind, but if only I could cook like my nan?
As a young man I also had the idea of trying to find my dad. Unbelievably, I actually did, and it transpired he lived in the same borough as me. He looks similar to me too (lucky him) but at this time, I don’t worry about further engagement, I’ve got Trevor Sterling, my Mum and my friends.
Admittedly, I didn’t do particularly well at school, although popular, I was often bored but had a keen interest in music, animation and sports. I do love a bit of MotoGP. I went to college and studied art and found myself not really wanting to go to university. At this stage, my sister was a baby and my mum was holding down multiple jobs to keep the bills paid. So, I luckily spent an exceptional amount of time with my grandparents and my uncle. In addition, many of my friends that I had from school are still with me now.
In my teens, after a sequence of customer service roles with those same friends, including a few years at McDonalds which I absolutely loved, I took up a role in a housing association. It’s important to note my mum also works in the housing sector. This opened my mind to a whole new world of personal grief and challenges. I was out of work for a period and started on reception as I do love customer interaction. I went from strength to strength utilising all the resilience and perseverance taught to me from the family and, ultimately, went through various roles and eventually became a manager.
Over the years, I’ve seen first-hand suicide, domestic abuse and suffered with post traumatic stress disorder. I’ve had to become exceptionally resilient to these types of sensitive situations, as the housing sector can also be unforgiving. There are always up and down days.
I had the courage to leave Optivo Housing Association after 14 years as I wanted to challenge myself further. So…. I went into Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council. Arriving post-Grenfell tragedy, I couldn’t have accepted a bigger challenge. RBKC is one of the most diverse boroughs in the country, with huge worlds colliding - unbridled wealth in the same postcodes of deprivation and poverty. I like representing diverse communities.
In a world filled with negativity and stereotypes, specifically around young black males, I’m often challenging the misconception about us.
We don’t all wear hoodies and carry weapons at all manner of the days
This is what many of the media would have us believe. I do however, like chicken and watermelon!
Even as I write this, I open the news app and there are continued occurrences of young people losing their lives. This is not sustainable and there needs to be a voice for the younger generation. Our own government are rather uninspiring, boring us to death with Brexit and we are losing sight of the important issues affecting us daily.
So what would Mary do?
There are many of us challenging the perception of a glass ceiling and aiming to make a difference. But that can be tougher to do when you’re a certain profile. I am lucky that I have been afforded opportunities to change this. I joined the Mary Seacole Trust as a Trustee and this includes supporting our Youth Advisory Committee (YAC) to support and influence our education strategy. This summer we have developed a strong link with City Hall which provides the Lynk Up Crew to have a voice. Our younger generation can be the forgotten bunch. Listening to the views of youngsters is incredibly important. They have a voice and we should listen to them, about shaping their own futures. It’s also important they see people within their own likeness in positions of influence.
I will continue to support MST to work with our younger members to drive policy change and to provide a platform for them to succeed, in any way they wish. Truth is, they’re smarter than me already and will be future leaders. Being part of the Mary Seacole Trust has provided a platform for me to be around high achieving and inspirational people who are leading their sectors in positive ways. I’m proud to be part of MST and being part of Mary’s’ legacy. Standing next to Marys statue at St Thomas’ Hospital with her imposing stride is an incredible feeling. Mary is a beacon of strength and her journey is inspirational.
I also co-manage the Seacole Dynamos football team with my uncle Trevor. It’s these simple community efforts that can drive change and perception. I’m proud to mentor and coach teenagers and ensuring we can improve their mentality and develop them into even better footballers. My cousins and little brother have also been part of the squads.
So… essentially my world consisted of non-achievement at school, many life experiences and plenty of drama. But I have a very hard-working family making every effort to ensure us grandchildren succeed. I’m not there yet but I will continue to strive to do more and be better.
I’m lucky that the man at the top of the Mary Seacole Trust and the Queen of the Sterling family, influence and inspire me highly. It’s very simple; I salute you.
We remember for Remembrance Sunday
We have recently reviewed all Mary Seacole Trust’s objectives and priorities in order to ensure that we can make the greatest impact in promoting social equality over the coming years.
Our priorities will continue to include Mary’s statue maintenance, as well as our leadership & education initiatives, and of course continuing to raise Mary’s profile!
In December we also celebrate the anniverary of the unveiling of Marys plaque at St Thomas Hospital to celebrate those who have lost their lives during conflict
Kismet Meyon, Peer Outreach Team, City Hall
My name is Kismet Meyon and I’m studying at Goldsmiths university. I am a final year student of Politics and International Relations. I also work under the Education and Youth Team for the London Mayor and manage our 7-15 year olds.
I have been in plays performed at the Royal Court Theatre, held enquiries in parliament to shape policy around young people and held focus groups around issues that we face every day. Our diverse and talented team helped me get to university. I never thought this would be possible at the age of 15 when I was first homeless. However, our team stands for being a voice for those who are not heard and through our lived experiences we are able to articulate these issues to much higher levels of authority.
We aspire to inspire like the Mary Seacole Trust and we want to create a better and diverse London
Despite my hurdles in life, like many young people experience, myself and the team aim to pave away for better outcomes for those that experience hardships. We will drive for equal opportunities for all and will celebrate how diverse, creative and artistic London, the greatest city, our home, truly is!
Mary Seacole Award winners' blog
Written by Gladys Aina-Duncan, School of Health Sciences, BME Student Network and is a Staff Nurse
My journey into healthcare began from the encouragement of my family members and my former manager who promised to fire me if I did not enrol for my nursing degree. As l started my journey, I was still unsure of my direction or goals. Overall, I had a passion for people, their wellbeing and fairness.
While in my first year, during a class activity, l noticed the cultural disparity when assigned to work together in groups. Usually the ungrouped would be made up of me, a black guy, an Asian guy and Polish lady because we had been left out by our counterparts. At times the seminar facilitator would place people into different groups to allow integration among different class members. However, when the facilitator did not assign us l would find myself sitting alone and would be drawn to students of the same ethnic background. Or l sat on my own as the majority of students would not be keen on working with me.
When the placement started in a clinical setting I was in my element. It allowed me to explore my caring and bubbly personality.
However, on many occasions I was segregated due to unconscious bias or just merely by the way I look.
This affected my confidence and impeded my growth as a student nurse, but I did not allow it to defeat me.
I attended the forum network provided by the university for first year nursing students, which was a mandatory session. The forum allowed students to discuss their challenges and listen to fellow students share their experiences. It was at this forum where the desire for a BME Network was born after listening to a student from the same ethnic background as she narrated her experience, in tears. The convener was unable to support the student because she did not understand or could not relate to the experiences we faced as black and minority ethnic (BME) people in nursing. The student was so overwhelmed that she actually decided to leave the university and nursing as she could not continue due to the experiences she faced.
Her terrible story prompted the desire for ethnic minority students to have a support network where we could meet to discuss our challenges and develop as individuals
I was an advocate with other fellow students and we pioneered a BME network group for University of Nottingham nursing students providing peer mentoring which increased my confidence and developed my leadership and management qualities.
I am grateful for the support of the university as they allowed me to develop the BME network group. With the support of Stacy Johnson, Associate Professor of Nursing and Health Sciences, and Julia Carson-Little, the Education and Student Experience Manager, we were able to jumpstart peer support sessions assisting with assignments, clinical placements and accessing services provided by the university.
As a student ambassador l was able to meet students and inform them about the university and BME support network reinforcing the confidence of ethnic minority students. The BME network group encouraged students’ sense of belonging, introduced a variety of programmes and societies to engage with, and in turn ensured BME students were not alone through their student nurse journey.
The BME Network won the Nursing Times Award for the first Mary Seacole Award for Outstanding Contribution to Diversity and Inclusion. Winning the award elevated the BME network to a whole new level which was a great start to my nursing career. The BME network is growing, it has recently organised its first conference, titled BecoME, where student nurses and newly qualified nurses will be listening and engaging with BME leaders in healthcare.
Even after graduating l have continued to work with the BME network as an alumnus of the University of Nottingham. I am currently a member of the BAME shared governance of the Nottingham University Hospital (NUH) surgical division. I am also involved in the Cultural and Leadership Change Team were the team is engaging, analysing and developing ways to improve the culture in NUH.
Lastly, I was fortunate to attend the Chief Nursing Officer’s Black and Minority Ethnic STRATEGIC Advisory Group meeting held in Birmingham where we shared with the group the progress of BME Network within the University.
Student Nursing Times Awards 2020
Calling all students, lecturers, practice supervisors, universities, trusts and private organisations. Entries to the 2020 Student Nursing Times Awards #SNTA are open.
Think you’ve got what it takes to win? Nominate yourself, your peers or your organisation at the Student Nursing Times Awards #SNTA
See below for promo video
Are you a student nurse working hard to create a supportive and inclusive environment?
Then the 'Mary Seacole Award for Diversity and Inclusion' sponsored by NHS Health Education England could be waiting to hear from you.
The closing date is Friday November 29th.
The Butterfly Effect
Written by Trevor Sterling
I was touched to receive an email recently from a lady who told me that 4 years ago I had spoken with her on a train, I had complimented her daughter for being so polite. As we spoke she appeared unhappy with life therefore I was encouraging and told her not to give up on her aspirations .
Out of the blue, four years later, she explained in her email that she had actually been the victim of domestic abuse at the time of our chance meeting and that shortly after our meeting she was struck by her partner and knocked to the floor. She said that she recalled my words and somehow found the strength to leave her partner with her daughter. After a period in a hostel she moved to her own place, changed job and was promoted. She has now even funded private schooling for her now six year old daughter.
The lady thanked me, saying that this was the effect of that brief moment on the train. Of course it was she who found the strength to do what she did but this made me think - just think how life would be if each of us demonstrated caring & compassionate acts in keeping with Mary Seacole’s values, just small acts of kindness which could then create a “Butterfly Effect”.
In all we do, we must understand that a simple act of kindness is the first step and if achieved, social equality and a caring and compassionate society will be the that train’s destination.
Ashton, Seacole Dynamos football team
Written by Caryn Stevenson
Ashton, our son, plays for the Dynamos in the centre of defence. Ashton really enjoys being part of the Dynamos and was extremely proud of winning the Cup in the 18/19 season against a team that on paper would have been the favourite.
The victory was evidence of the team spirit and self belief that Trevor and Jermaine has instilled in the team.
Ashton has in particular benefited from their guidance and encouragement. He broke his collar bone a couple of seasons ago and this had a particular impact on his confidence on the pitch.
As Trevor and Jermaine have kept faith in him and focused on the positives, his confidence has returned and his enjoyment of the game has increased significantly.
Our very own and inspirational Life Patron, Dame Elizabeth Anionwu won the 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award at the Pride of Britain Awards.
Dame Elizabeth continues to make us proud and we are absolutely delighted with her new achievement.
See the video below of Dame Elizbeth receiving the Award from Janet Jackson.
The Health Service Journal (HSJ) awards, now in their 39th year, are among the world’s most fiercely contested health service awards, attracting hundreds of entries from the NHS and its partners.
This year’s awards saw a number of categories introduced for the first time, including mental health trust of the year.
In an eventful week, our Ambassador Dr Habib Naqvi as part of his role with the Workforce Race Equality Standards (WRES) collected the Workforce Initiative of the Year Award